Cleveland Indians: Expect Michael Brantley at Spring Training

kkremer
Aug 23, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) celebrates with Michael Brantley (23) after defeating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Indians defeated the Yankees 4 - 3. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) celebrates with Michael Brantley (23) after defeating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Indians defeated the Yankees 4 - 3. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley must be going insane with all that pent-up talent and energy that is dying to be unleashed on the field.

Bold statement for all you cynics, I know, but it is backed by evidence. Michael Brantley is really, literally, getting back into the swing of things as of this week. On top of that, the Cleveland Indians’ beloved left fielder is officially on the depth chart—a great hint that Brantley will show up strong for Spring Training in February.

On Wednesday, Tribe president Chris Antonetti established that Brantley has started to hit balls off a tee. It was then confirmed via Twitter:

Earlier this month, Brantley was reported to be practicing non-contact swings, and in December, he was just swinging to get the motion back down. So moving on to hitting balls is big news. He (and Carlos Carrasco) were activated from the 60-day DL in early November, so his recovery should be gathering speed by now.

Hitting off the tee requires substantially less physical stress than hitting a 90+ mph pitch. However, it still requires muscle memory, strength, and, most importantly, somewhat-healed shoulder muscles. Brantley still has almost a full month to get his swing back and his arm ready for impact—he doesn’t have to report to Spring Training’s first workout until February 14.

Antonetti did preface the good news with the reality of the situation. The Indians and Brantley have continued to “[work] through his tolerance”.

In 2015, Brantley required surgery for a torn labrum muscle located in his right shoulder. That surgery dominoed into two more, taking him out for almost all of last year.

Not saying this won’t work out, but in case it doesn’t, don’t lose faith. There are multiple athletes that can handle left field while Brantley’s shoulder recovers. In recent news, the Indians just re-signed Brantley’s understudy: Brandon Guyer. He turned out to be a powerful substitute in 2016, and just signed a two-year deal with the Tribe. Abraham Almonte and Jose Ramirez play a mean left field, too.

Next: 4 Prospects to Watch for in 2017

Brantley, a 2014 All-Star, a Silver Slugger, and a two-time MVP nominee, is worth the wait-for-return.

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